Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25 has three different stories that Jesus told about the day of judgment. The first story (Matthew 25:1-13) tells us two things: First – we cannot rely on the faith of others. We are only saved by our personal faith in Jesus. Second – no one knows when Jesus will return, so we must already be ready.
The second story (Matthew 25:14- 30) Tells us that our faith must be more than mere head knowledge. Our faith must be active, it must produce fruit.
The third story (Matthew 25:31-46) tells us what kind of fruit we must produce. The king separates the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31). To those on his right, he affirms. But those on his left he condemns. Notice that both groups answer the king in the same way, “When did we see you…”
Neither group recognized the king (Jesus) in their actions or lack of actions. It is faith in Jesus however, that caused the first group to act without thinking. The second group, though they may have acted appropriately, were rejected because of their lack of faith. Hebrews 11:6 (GW) 6 No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Our memory verse comes form the words spoken y the king to the first group. These are shocking words. Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ All three stories in Matthew 25 are about when Jesus returns at the end of time. the angel told the disciples while they stared up into heaven after Jesus’ ascension, “He will com back the same way you have seen him leave (Acts 1:11).”
But here in the words of the king, a new reality is revealed. Jesus is present in the least of these. Whatever act of kindness we do out of our love for Jesus, we do to Jesus! As I thought about this verse this week, I was reminded of St. Martin of Tours.
Martin lived in the 300’s AD. He lived in Europe and served in the military. He became a follower of Jesus and desired to serve him full time. Martin had a habit of giving away his things to those in need. One day as he was traveling in his uniform, he saw a beggar who was cold. He knew he couldn’t give away his entire cape, so he cut it in half and gave half to the beggar. Many people laughed at him walking around with half a cape. But that night Jesus came to him in a dream and told him that He was the beggar to whom he had given half his cape.
You and I may never have this kind of dream, but here in Matthew 25:40 we have the same promise. Whatever act of kindness we do to the least of these, we do to Jesus!
Hebrews 10:24 (GW) 24 We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things.
Today, Jesus comes to you disguised as the least. Don’t turn a blind eye. Don’t merely offer a silent prayer. Do good. Make this your practice so that you won’t even think about doing good. You will naturally do good to others.
P.S. To learn more about St. Martin of Tours click here